It was more than a decade ago, on September 20, 2001, when the infamous George Bush proclaimed,
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.
He may have left the office but like his policies, this sentence still seems to resonate with the Pakistani nation, particularly PPP and its jiyalas. They label anyone who tries to question their incompetence as enemies of democracy.
A manifestation of that is the latest national catastrophe that has hit Pakistan.
Raja Parvaiz Ashraf has been made the 27th prime minister of Pakistan. The same Raja Rental ─ as named by the Twitterati ─ whose reputation is marred by countless corruption scandals; the most notable being rental power plant projects that he relentlessly pursued until the Supreme Court had to step in.
Ashraf’s achievements do not end here because, as a minister, he also promised a frustrated Pakistani population an end to loadshedding so many times that Gilani himself had to put a stop to those ‘December deadlines’ by removing him from the ministry. But now, surpassing many, Ashraf has stepped up to take his position and become the prime minister of Pakistan. If this was karma biting Yousaf Raza Gilani, we are destined to become collateral damage.
When the results were announced, I had to rub my eyes for a clearer view since this was another unbelievable and unfortunate twist of fate after Zardari’s ride to the presidency. What followed after shock and surprise was anger and regret.
For the myriad problems that Pakistan faces, 211 elected representatives had to choose this man to solve them. I reiterate he is the same person against whom Supreme Court ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to initiate proceedings for large-scale embezzlements found in Karkey Rental Power Plant, Reshma Rental Generation Company Limited and Gulf Rental Power Project, to name a few.
It is not just Ashraf’s lack of ability to handle Pakistan’s economic and corruption problems, amongst others, that should worry us. There’s another clear writing on the wall – the stand-off between executive and judiciary will not ease since he is already painted black in the eyes of Supreme Court.
While this has certainly proved disappointing, what is even more perplexing is the opposition’s conspicuous silence. All it managed to conjure up was lip service, threats and warnings. Nawaz Sharif threatened to send the newly-elected prime minister home if he does not reopen the president’s Swiss cases, while Imran Khan called the results shameful.
But the point is that this is not enough. Where is that promised ‘tsunami’ and ‘long march’ that will sweep these shady rulers away? Now is the time to step up the game because history is being carved in stone and neither Pakistan nor Pakistanis can afford to lose any of their remaining sanity. Just like we were at a difficult junction when Bush made that statement, this is now another turn in history which demands tough choices to be made.
Today when I’m skeptical of democracy’s success in Pakistan, I have only one request for the new prime minister;
Sir, when you resigned as a Minister for Water and Power in February 2011, the electricity shortfall stood at 1, 480 megawatts, according to PEPCO’s director general, and within 14 months since then, it is 6, 500 megawatts. Please don’t leave the same legacy for Pakistan’s other problems when you walk out of the PM office after the February 2013 elections.